How to Host Sustainably this Holiday Season

by Alex ThatcherNovember 7, 2016

Eco-Friendly Choices for the Holidays

Summer is over, and the holiday season is here. It’s the perfect time to invite friends and family into your home, to share laughter and refreshments, to express your gratitude and generosity, and to share your space with the people you love most.

But one thing about the holiday season that’s less than cheery is the waste. Did you know that from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25 percent? It’s true. According to RecycleWorks, U.S. consumers use 4 million tons of gift-wrap and shopping bags around this time of year.

That’s not all: we also buy more than 2.5 billion holiday cards, which is enough to fill a football stadium 10 stories high. And while we’re sure some of those are getting recycled, it’s likely that plenty of them aren’t. Yikes! From ribbons to food waste, holiday lights to shopping trips, we consume (and waste) a ton of resources during the holiday season.

Now, before you accuse us of being scrooges, don’t think for a second that we’re anti-festivities. We’d just like to make the holiday season a bit more sustainable. With that in mind, here are some tips for sustainable holiday hosting.
hosting sustainably during the Holiday Season

Recycle That Christmas Tree

You might think that buying an artificial tree is the way to go; after all, you’ll use it year after year. But sooner or later, it’s going to lose its luster, and will likely end up at the dump. Instead, purchase a live tree from a local grower. You’ll be supporting the local economy, and at the end of the season, you can turn that tree into mulch, compost it, use it as firewood, or if you’ve purchased a potted tree, plant it in your yard.

Gift Wrapping Is a Great Way to Upcycle

Americans have gotten better at recycling over the years, but we still waste an awful lot of gift-wrap each year. Well, maybe waste is a strong word. Still, it’s worth finding ways to save paper. Whenever possible, wrap related gifts in the same paper, and if you can use an old map, last year’s wrapping paper, or the newspaper’s comic book section, even better.
hosting sustainably during the Holiday Season

Offset Your Carbon Footprint When Traveling

If you plan on visiting faraway loved ones this holiday season, consider purchasing carbon offsets to minimize the environmental impact of your trip. Initiatives such as TerraPass fund environmental projects with users’ offset payments, so you can feel good about traveling.

Upgrade Your Holiday Lights

If you’re still decking the halls with outdated incandescent lights, then you may be surprised to know that according to the Washington Post, LED lights are up to 90 percent more efficient than their incandescent counterparts. If everyone switched to LEDs, it would have a sizable environmental impact.

Quality Over Quantity

According to, seventy percent of Americans would prefer if the holiday season had less emphasis on spending money. This holiday season; why not focus on giving fewer, better gifts? Forget about the useless trinkets that are forgotten by New Year’s Eve, and do your best to buy each person on your Santa list something they’ll really love. If you happen to be buying for someone with expensive taste, you might even consider pooling resources to buy them something great “from both of us.”

Minimize Food Waste

So much food goes to waste this time of year. If you have extra, make sure each of your guests leave with plenty of good food – you’re probably not going to eat all those yams, anyway, right? Also, instead of throwing expired food away, start a compost pile. You’ll waste less, and your garden will love you for it.
hosting sustainably during the Holiday Season

Combine Your Trips

You probably make plenty of trips this time of year – you have to buy presents, prepare for holiday dinners, and visit friends. Chances are good that some of those trips could be combined to save gas and eliminate fossil fuel waste. For example, you might stop at that specialty store across town on the way to drop off cookies for your dear Aunt Sally. On the way back, you might make a grocery run. It might seem like a pain to plan ahead like that, but it’s so worth it. You’ll save time, money, and gas.

We’re Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate in your home – green goes with everything. Though our traditions may be different, we can all agree that we’d like to keep celebrating them for a long, long time. And taking care of the earth is the smart way to ensure that we get to do that.

Happy holidays from all of us at! is the place to dream and discover your ideal home! Are you starting to get the itch to look for your first or next home, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place! Browse our real estate and lifestyle blog for home buying tips, mortgage guides, DIY ideas, interior design, lifestyle topics, general home inspiration, or just some homes fun. We are sure you can scratch that itch and find all the information and tools you need to help in your home search. Want to start looking at available real estate right now? Head to our home page and check out homes for sale or rent listings all over the country. Happy house hunting!

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About The Author
Alex Thatcher
Alex is a home staging guru who moonlights as a writer. She loves everything about interior design and loves working in the industry. Alex is an expert in finding what makes people light up when they walk into a room, and has made a living by creating interiors that are unique, warm and inviting. When she isn't arranging flowers or making sure she's found the right loveseat for prospective buyers, she writes about her passion — home design.

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